Wallyhood welcomes Adam Lee to our merry band of writers. Adam recently graduated from college in Vermont, and has since moved westward to seek his fortune in the fertile soils of Puget Sound. His roommates chose to bring him to Wallingford for its central location between UW and the downtown and for its fine neighborhood establishments, and as he gets to know the area he appreciates their foresight more and more. He enjoys baseball and hot dogs, and can often be found running around Green Lake.
The Wallingford Greenway took another step towards completion yesterday after a walkabout with neighborhood Greenway Czar Cathy Tuttle and SDOT transportation planner Carol McMahan. The meeting was largely a formality, but it offered an opportunity to voice some final concerns before construction begins in earnest during the latter part of November. Though some minor issues still need to be worked out, Ms. Tuttle put in the real legwork over the last ten months and her determination looks set to finally pay off.
The most vexing problem confronting Wallingford and the Greenway Gang was parking. City regulations will push available spaces back 20 feet from traffic circles, in every direction and on both sides of the road, crunching out a few spaces. Fortunately, this rule is already in place at most traffic circles, and Ms. McMahan, who helps determine the parking rules for SDOT’s greenway committee, was able to find places that were closed but could be opened back up. In effect, she suggested, there will actually be a net positive in the number of spaces available to Wallingfordians. A vote will have to be taken by residents living along portions of the street to be re-opened, but it doesn’t seem like it will be difficult to get the requisite 60% approval rate. After all, as the group pointed out, everyone loves parking.
The problems still to be resolved mostly concerned visibility, and how to indicate to both cyclists and motorists that they were actually on a greenway. Large, bicycle-shaped markings on the street itself will help, but the city is generally against putting up road signs, especially for cars crossing on North-South streets. Painting traffic circles was suggested as a potentially viable solution, and though the City of Seattle’s official position here was murky, it didn’t seem like they would do anything to suppress the creative output of a few determined, independent citizens.
But for all practical purposes, the Greenway project is ready to be built. Surveying is in fact already done on Stone Way for a crossing island at 43rd, from where the route will flow eastward to Burke, turn north, and then continue its way east on 44th. Flyers will also go up soon to residents living near the greenway to inform people of the new rules. Right now, the crucial part of the project for those involved is ensuring its viability as a safety corridor where children and the elderly can ride and play peacefully.
To that end, Ms. Tuttle has helpfully composed an information-gathering worksheet that will allow the Greenway Committee and SDOT to get a feel for how effectively the project creates a safe space. Check it out, and then sign up for a time. It comes with instructions, but basically the goal is to have us, the residents of Wallingford, sign up for half-hour slots where we will watch intersections along the route and record the sorts of traffic that pass. Armed with information from before and after the Greenway’s installation, the city will be able to learn what the route does well and where it could be improved, increasing the project’s long-term chances and its visibility within the neighborhood and city in general. The half-hour slots are a great way for otherwise busy people to get involved in the Greenway project, and with a little help from the folks in Wallingford we could make the neighborhood a safer place for everyone.